Will you send your child back to school on 1st June?
Many parents have had "the email" this week. The one from their child’s head teacher inviting them back into the classroom on 1st June. While over 2,000 primary schools say they will remain closed, two parents with children due to return after half term explain why one will and one won’t be sending their child back.
Lucy, mum of three, Bath. Her daughter, Libby, WILL return to Reception class on 1st June
My children’s school have been brilliant throughout this and I trust them to do what’s right for the children’s health, learning and mental wellbeing. To me, trying to second guess things the government are telling us – or not telling us – and agonising over what’s right to do, feels more problematic than just trusting all the fantastic teachers at the school.
My Reception daughter will be able to return to school first. Of my three children, she has been the one who has found lockdown the hardest. Her fledgling social connections have been lost. For us, despite the fact that her year 3 brother will not be going back for a while, we think that the benefits of her having some stimulated education and time with her friends and teachers will be invaluable during her first year of school.
I know that social distancing will be pretty much impossible. Children, especially the youngest in the primary schools, are programmed to be social and that’s exactly why they should also be back in the classroom surrounded by their friends. I actually think too much emphasis on social distancing will be counterproductive and make them confused and worried. We don’t distance at home so it will be a whole new skill to master a time when things are different enough.
It feels right to trust the fantastic teachers that I know rather than uncertain government guidelines.
We have little risk in our family, and no one at high risk in our immediate lives, so for us the risk of contracting coronavirus is outweighed by the benefits of her getting back to school, if and only if, she is able to do so with some semblance of ‘normality’ and valuable social and emotional support from her key workers. We live in a low risk area and my children go to a village school with plenty of outdoor space. I know that makes the decision easier than if I was sending my child back to a large inner city primary school.
We are going to be living with this situation for a very long time and at some point we are going to have to try and return to ‘normal’, A safe and reliable vaccine could be years away and there is no guarantee, in fact looking unlikely, that we will have schools functioning at capacity in September. We have to learn to live with the virus and protect our vulnerable members of society as best we can but also protect the emotionally and financially vulnerable who are at increasing risk right now.
I think a lot of people who refuse to send their children back are missing the fact that the government is trying to get primaries back to reduce a different risk: children being in vulnerable/neglectful situations at home. Thousands of children will be much safer at school.
For me, the core point is that schools do so much more than educate, including offering security, routine and often food that children don't get at home. It is sad but this is the reality of society. School is not just phonics and number squares. It’s about play, communication with friends and teachers and developing life skills. These are the areas I worry about her “falling behind”.
Tom, dad of two, Bath. His Year 1 son, Jack, WILL NOT return to school on 1st June
My son is in Year 1 and I will absolutely not be sending him back after half term. It will be tough on my eldest, who is in Year 4, if my youngest goes back to primary school without him. They have spent so much quality time together over the past couple of months that to separate them now seems unnecessary and unsettling.
Of all of the places to open first, it doesn’t make sense that it is schools. The supermarket makes us queue 2-meters apart before shepherding us around the store in a one-way route, and yet it is okay for four years to return to school?
Lockdown has been great for us as a family, I don’t want it to end. My boys have learnt each day at their own pace, and I have seen their confidence grow both in their school work but also how they learn from each other. My younger son has actually pushed my older boy to expand his comfort zone in terms of risky play. My older son is naturally cautious but I’ve seen him climb and tumble a lot more. I didn’t expect this. I love being at home with my family and living a gentler pace of life. It feels like routine and expectations have fundamentally changed and I am in absolutely no rush to end that.
My children will not be guinea pigs. We've lasted this long; my family will wait until the science is clear cut.
My boys’ school have sent a good amount of home learning and they have adapted really well to using the laptop to access school work. I don’t see that they are losing out academically at all if they continue this way until September. They work in the mornings and we go on adventures as a family in the afternoon. I think life should always be like this. I like them being free range.
There is no way they will be going back until I am satisfied it’s safe to go out there. I feel the Government are just playing around with ideas and unsure themselves as to what it is the best way forward to get out of this lockdown. I just don’t know why we have to experiment with our children’s lives. Especially as there’s the Kawasaki virus going around children which is related to Covid-19. Unfortunately, until we get a vaccine this virus is something we are going to have to live with but with the issues with two of my boys, one with low immune system and one with possible asthma, I won’t be risking it.
Even ahead of publishing any scientific advice, the government said there will be no fines or penalties for parents who decide to not send their children back. So why risk it? They wouldn’t offer parents this option if they didn’t know it was necessary.
So, a week on Monday, we will be logging on to Joe Wicks as normal at 9am and the uniforms can stay in the wardrobe until September. I refuse to let my children be guinea pigs.
UPDATE AT 3PM ON 22 MAY: